Aaahhh…..is there anything better than pasta for dinner? I think not! Know what makes it even better? Homemade sausage made by our friends.
We were recently sent some homemade sausage from our friends in Connecticut. Their son, now an avid hunter, brings home all sorts of game. Our friends, in true Italian fashion, make their own sausage. They shipped it to us along with some other goodies. I can not tell you how excited we were to receive it. Tonight, it became part of our dinner.
I would like to elaborate just a little bit about their son. An American soldier, he was wounded 2 times in Afghanistan and lucky enough to return home. Unfortunately, he suffered from PTSD, or, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He credits his continued recovery to the love of his wife, family, and now, love of hunting. He was having difficulty when he returned home, and starting shutting himself away. His wife gave him a compound bow. He said he had no idea what to do with it. His wife said “you’re a soldier, you should know what to do.” With that, he started taking walks in the woods and began hunting. He commented “hunting saved my life. It has such an impact on the human spirit.”
I personally thank God every day for our military. I thank the military for my freedom. I thank him and his family for the wonderful sausage. This is a very special meal for the Del Grosso household tonight. We send a special prayer and a salute to all those who serve and protect. May God bless and keep all of you!
While I can’t share the sausage with you; I can share the recipe. You can use any type of Italian sausage that you like. Typically I would have used a lean Italian turkey sausage. If you have a favorite then use that. Whatever type of sausage you use, this dish will be wonderful.
Orecchiette is pasta. It’s name means little ear and is indeed shaped like an ear. It is pretty easy to find in most groceries. You can find it online at Amazon.com. If you are lucky enough to have an Italian market they will have it.
Broccoli rabe is also called rapini. Broccoli rabe has a slightly bitter taste. The crowns, leaves, and stems are all edible. It is in the same family as the turnip. If you can’t find broccoli rabe you can use kale. Remove the leaves and discard the stems. Cook it as instructed for the broccoli rabe.
ORECCHIETTE WITH SAUSAGE AND BROCCOLI RABE
- 1 large bunch of broccoli rabe, washed and 2″ trimmed off the stems
- 1 lb lean Italian sausage, removed from casing (your favorite brand)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 10 oz orecchiette
- 1 cup fat-free chicken broth
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- Cut the washed broccoli rabe in quarters. Bring a large pot of water to a full boil. Add the broccoli rabe and let cook for 1 1/2 minutes, remove to the side with a slotted spoon. DO NOT DUMP THE WATER.
- Bring the water back to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. (Al-dente works well here, about 8-9 minutes) Drain.
- In a large deep saute’ pan, brown the sausage on medium heat, breaking it up into small pieces. When completely cooked remove and set to the side.
- Add olive oil to the pan and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, DO NOT BURN! This step will take seconds.
- Return the broccoli rabe to the pan, mixing well with the garlic and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 1 minute.
- Return the sausage to the pan and mix well.
- Add the drained pasta to the broccoli rabe and sausage. Reduce the heat and stir for about 30 seconds.
- Add the chicken broth, parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes (if using). Adjust the salt and pepper and toss another minute so that everything is mixed well and coated in the sauce.
- Remove from the heat and divide into 6 pasta bowls.
Additional grated cheese can be added if desired.
Til next time
Photo courtesy of: Barbara Migliaro
Photography: Joseph and Vickie Del Grosso